Cutting Football Some Slack

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Football and New Equipment

As many people know, football has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent years due to its high prevalence of concussions. New rules and regulations are being tossed around left and right in order to decrease the risk of concussions and ensuring players’ safety. New helmets that are heavily padded have been presented in order to reduce the risks of concussions.

 

Researchers have also gone as far as to create what is known as a “Q-Collar.” This piece of equipment wraps around a player’s neck, placing just enough pressure on their jugular that it will increase brain blood flow and essentially create “air bags” around the brain. The idea came from observing head-ramming animals, such as woodpeckers and understanding how their body allows for constant brain impact.

How does one get a Concussion?

When your head is subjected to hard impact, your brain sloshes around, ramming into your skull. This causes your brain cells to undergo what is called mechanoporation, meaning that their membrane stretches. The stretching leads to more movement of ions in the brain, throwing off the normal concentration levels kept in and out of the cells. Your brain will try to restore normal levels, but unfortunately it costs energy (ATP). This can lead to a concussion and if not given the proper time to heal, the concussion can worsen.

 

Back To Football…

While it’s great to see precautions are being taken, it is important to realize that football is not the only sport showing a high number of concussions. In fact, according to a Washington Post article published last March, football was ranked number four in head injuries for high school sports. The high school sport with the highest number of head injuries was actually girls’ soccer. And so, with this in mind, it might be time to cut football some slack. We need to start looking beyond this one sport and take into account that multiple sports are having issues with head injuries.

Photo Credit: Washington Post